Monday, April 23, 2012

The One Where Kris Saves The Day...

“We’re going out, boys!” Staal hollered, slapping their goalie on the back as he walked out of the showers.  Guys whooped in reply as they were taking off their gear and slipping back into their suits.

James was sliding on his dress shoes, thinking about the 3-1 win.  He had two power play goals against his former team, the Dallas Stars.  He had to admit it felt good to score on them, almost like a “fuck you for trading me.”  But really, he loved Pittsburgh—the team, the town, Charlie.

He was lost in thought about the blonde, blue-eyed girl when Kris sat down next to him nudging him in the shoulder.  “So?  Will we be seeing Charlotte tonight?” he asked excitedly.

I will be, you guys won't,” he replied.

“You’re going to have to bring her around at some point, mon ami,” Kris followed him out to the players parking lot.  “She seems like a great girl, she could handle the guys,” he encouraged.

James stopped, so abruptly that Kris practically ran into him.  “She doesn’t know,” he mumbled when he turned around.


“Look,” James started, “Charlie’s not really a hockey fan.  She has no idea what I do, about you guys,”

The Frenchman looked at him quizzically, “But when I met her I mentioned tonight’s game,”

“I told her that I play in like a local league,” James hung his head, embarrassed.  “Look, I’m going to tell her—when the time is right,”

“You do realize that this isn’t going to end well?” Kris sighed and shook his head in pity, “When there are lies involved, it never ends well.”


They walked straight up to the local hot spot, and with just a nod from the bouncer they snaked their way into the club. 

The air was thick and warm from the masses of bodies.  It was dark except for the colored lights above that jumpy, always spotlighting one person for no more than a few seconds before moving on to the next.

James held Charlie by the hand firmly and led her to the staircase in the far corner.  The second floor overlooked the dance floor below, it had it's own bar and was less crowded. 

Charlie glanced down at her outfit and was glad she had looked up the dress code.  It wasn’t your typical club all-out attire, but had she listened to James, she would have been in jeans and a tee.  Luckily she had chosen a pair of red skinny jeans and a thin black spaghetti strap tank top, sassy but casual.

She propped herself up onto a bar stool and turned towards James, who stepped in between her legs.  “It’s crowded, trying to save space,” he winked, running a hand up and down her thigh.  “Drink?”

Within a matter of seconds James had a beer in his hand and was passing her a rum and coke.  It was the fastest service Charlie had ever seen.  But it the idea was immediately gone from her mind as James leaned in to whisper in her ear, “Have I told you how beautiful you look?”

“Only about five times,” Charlie giggled, “But I won’t ask you to stop,”

He pulled away, stealing a quick kiss before taking a sip of beer.  “Aren’t your friends supposed to be here?” she asked.

James looked around and scratched the back of his neck, “They’re probably here somewhere,” he shrugged.


One beer and two rum and cokes later, Charlie and James were having a great time.  The second floor quickly filled up with people looking for a good time.  James ended up taking the bar stool and Charlie stood snug in his lap.  They were lost in conversation when a tall, lanky blonde came up to James, clapping him on the shoulder.

“First fucking star of the game!” Jordan shouted, wrapping an arm around James’ shoulder.  “I bet the Stars are missing you and crying like pussies, fuck them!  Right Nealer?”

James froze.  The hair of the back of his neck stood up and his mind raced.  He had been avoiding the guys all night, ignoring their numerous texts and phone calls.  James had wanted to tell Charlie the truth—especially after a game like tonight.  He wanted to celebrate, and he wanted her to join.

But of course, he chickened out.  And now he wanted nothing more than to go back in time and tell the truth.  And to punch Jordan.

He finally looked down at Charlie, who tilted her head and was looking between the two men, puzzled.

“You know, my boy here has great stamina on and off the ice,” Jordan slurred, leaning too close to Charlie for James’ liking.  Before he could do anything about it, Jordan was pulled away by none other than the Frenchman.

“That piece of tail you’ve been chasing is waiting for you downstairs at the bar, Staalsy,” Kris turned him towards the stairs before he took off.  “Sorry about him, no manners.  And he doesn’t know how to hold his liquor,” he joked.

“Charlotte, it’s so nice to see you again!” Kris pulled Charlie in for a hug.  She gave him a genuine smile before turning back to James.  “Um, what was he talking about?” she asked quietly.

“Who?  Oh, Jordan?” James scoffed.  “Don’t pay attention to a thing he says, no one ever does,”

Charlie wasn’t buying it.  Her brows were furrowed and her lips were pressed tightly together.

“Ma belle,” Kris piped up, “We had a game tonight, and our friend James here scored us two goal to help us win!”  James glared at Kris and was about to yell at him before he noticed Kris subtly motioned with his hands saying that he had it under control.

“Oh I didn’t know you had a game tonight," Charlie hummed.  "Do you play with James, Kris?” she asked.

“Ah, yes I do.  Jordan too," he motioned after the blonde.  "It was a late game, and James never does well with guests in the stands," Kris fibbed, "Especially if there was a pretty little thing like you in the crowd rooting for him—he’d be useless,” 

Charlie stepped towards Kris and placed a hand on his arm, “I like him!” she exclaimed.

James rolled his eyes, removing her hand from his teammates muscular arm, “So you’ve said,”

She laughed before drinking the last of her drink and excusing herself to the ladies room.  The second she was out of earshot James turned to Kris and practically bowed down to him.  “Thank you Tanger, I don’t know—I panicked!” he cried.

“I’m not always going to be there James,” Kris said like a disappointed father.

James ran a hand through his messy hair, “I know, I know.  I’m going to tell her.  I am.”


Charlie came back refreshed to find Kris and James in an intense conversation.  She cleared her throat so she wouldn’t hear anything they didn’t want her to.  Kris whipped around and James plastered on a fake smile.  He rubbed the back of his neck—which Charlie was beginning to think was a nervous habit.

“Ma belle!” Kris grinned.  “I do believe you owe me a dance,”

She squealed, placing her hand in his and letting him lead to the dance floor below.  It was hot and sweaty bodies were bumping into them from all sides.  Charlie usually didn’t dance in public so willingly—but then again, liquor can make people do anything.

Kris twirled her around before stepping in, bringing her hands around his neck.  His hands rested her on her hips respectively, and they quickly found a rhythm to the music blaring through the speakers.  They hips swayed close together as they danced for the first song not saying a word.

Charlie was brought out of her daze when Kris leaned in to talk.  “So, you and James,” he shouted.  She eyed him, but couldn’t keep a grin from her lips.  “So, me and James,” she mocked.  Kris raised an eyebrow, wanting her to continue.

She sighed and laughed, “He’s a great guy.  I like him a lot.”  A slight blush rose to her cheeks.

“And I know he likes you.  Just…” Kris struggled to find the words.  “Like you said, he’s a great guy—one of the best that I know.  Just keep that in mind, ok?  He always means well,”

She hadn’t realized but they had stopped dancing.  Her stomach turned, but she couldn't tell if it was the alcohol or his words, “Kris, what are you saying?”

“Nothing!  Nothing,” he reassured her.  “But I will tell you that jealousy does not look good on your man,” Kris laughed quietly before he dropped his hands from Charlie’s waste.  “James,” Kris nodded before winking at Charlie and disappearing into the throng of people.

Charlie turned around to find James, jealousy dripping down his face.

“Oh hush,” Charlie swatted his chest.  “It’s not like he’s got sex hair that you just want to pull.”  

James pulled her against his chest tightly, muffling her laugh.  He snuck a thick thigh between hers and the two moved slowly against each other on the dance floor.  

Charlie wound her arms around his neck and her hands ran through James' full hair.  “Hmmm, I’d say it’s a winner,”

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The One With A Movie...

“Hey, zip your face!”
“Zip my face?  Are you serious?”
“Yeah, he said ‘zip your face’.”
“That’s you’re best line?  That’s your best line tough guy?”
“You heard me.  Zip your face.”
“Why don’t you just zip your vagina, Raymond Burr!”
“I have no idea how to respond to that!”

Charlie giggled as she watched Date Night, her laugh vibrating against James’ chest.

It was a low-key Thursday night.  James didn’t like to do too much the night before a game, so he suggested an early movie at Charlie’s place.

James was too tall to fit on her couch and had to bend his knees.  Charlie snuggled in beside him using his left arm as a pillow.

I don’t see what the problem is with spooning, he thought.  What guy wouldn't want this?

He thought the movie was funny, but not as much as Charlie.  She was laughing the whole time, her head fell back against him with glee when she thought it was really funny.  James loved the sound of it.  When she thought something was funny she’d scrunch her nose up and smile, a child-like giggle escaping.  And when something was hysterical she would through her head back, her eyes closed, as her mouth would open slightly but no noise, she would just gasp for air.

Head falling back, eyes closed, mouth open… reminds me of something else…  Down boy!

But it was hard not to let his mind wander.  Whenever Charlie would shift her t-shirt would ride just a hair up her stomach.  James wanted so badly to move his hand from her hip to the exposed skin just above her jeans.

Watch this, he snickered to himself.

James reached across Charlie and grabbed the remote from the table, turning it up just a notch.  When he drew his arm back, he draped his hand above her waist.

Slowly he began to twist the hem of her top around his fingers.  After a few minutes, James slipped his hand under her shirt, resting it gently on her stomach.

Charlie wrapped her leg back around his, she sighed and cuddled in closer to him.

James dropped his head down and nuzzled into her neck.  He placed a trail of kisses from her shoulder blade to behind her ear.

“You’re missing the movie,” she giggled.

 “I’ve seen it before,” he whispered heavily in her ear before rolling onto her, securing her in his arms.  Charlie didn’t put up a fight, and instead she wrapped her arms loosely around his neck. 

James took in the sight before him, or under him really. 

His finger lightly traced the small curve of the bridge of her nose, then along the faint scar just above her upper lip.  She closed her eyes as James slowly counted each freckle under her right eye.  When his fingers followed the soft line of her jaw he kissed her.


Tina Fey and Steve Carell no longer had their attention, not when they were distracted with each other’s lips and hot-to-the-touch skin. 

All it took was for one kiss, one kiss and things got heated pretty quickly. 

James ducked down and kissed the flesh of her bare neckline, occasionally grazing his teeth across her collarbone.  Charlie threaded her fingers up into his hair, clutching onto fistfuls whenever James would nip at her skin.

While one hand played with the boundaries and stroked along the soft flesh just below her bra, the other moved down her back and grabbed onto her ass firmly.  He pulled her up to him as he grinded himself down.

Charlie bit her lip as a battle between good and evil broke out inside.

She’d be a liar—and an idiot—if she said she didn’t want this.  Quite honestly if things didn’t stop there, she would regret nothing in the morning she was sure of it.  James was winning her over, body and mind.  His charming personality and ridiculously gorgeous body was becoming a fixture in her life.

But then it would creep up in the back of her mind, the idea that things were moving too fast.  She hadn’t even known James for a month.  For some girls that doesn’t mean anything, but Charlie wasn’t one of them.  She didn’t want be just another girl to James, she wanted to be ‘the girl’.

Charlie was brought back to reality when James made his way back up to her lips.  The taste of his kiss was intoxicating—like a drug, it had her doing things she wasn’t aware of.

Her hand had slipped under his sweater.  She felt him grin against her lips when she gasped a little at the feel of his toned abs.  Charlie dragged her nails across his taught stomach.  James’ hand still gripped her ass, but she was in full control when she raked her hips against his.  It was his turn to gasp.

“Charlie, baby,” he moaned quietly.  “We need to stop,”

“Mhm,” her breathing a little heavy, “You’re right,”

James kissed her deeply.  Charlie bit his bottom lip and tugged on it as he pulled away, winking when it slipped out of her hold.

“Fuck,” James grunted.


This girl is going to be the death of me.

James grinned, stealing a glance from across the couch.  He made her sit on the opposite side, their legs intertwined between them.  He had to be stern with her though, grabbing her foot multiple times when she tried snaking it up his leg.

When the movie was finally over, Charlie made a comment about having to watch it again when James left to see all the parts she had missed.  For some odd reason that made him proud.

Charlie was in the kitchen putting away their drinks and her leftover popcorn.  James sat there on the couch, his arms relaxed and lying on his stomach.  He was looking around the room when a picture caught his eye.

He had seen it before.  It was a photo of her with her mom and brother.  They might not have known each other long, but he thought he’d ask about the man missing.

“Where's your dad?” James held the up the photo from her college graduation as he walked to her at the sink.

He must have caught her off guard because she dropped a dish she had been washing.  “Uh, what?” she stuttered.

“Your dad,” he repeated casually.  “Was he not there?”

Charlie stared at the picture for a minute, her expression blank.  “No, he wasn’t,” she answered indifferent.

“I suppose you don’t want talk about it?” he laughed lightly, hoping he didn't upset her.

She smiled at him, though he could tell it was forced.  “Not really,” she said quietly.  “It’s getting late,”

Maybe asking wasn’t such a good idea, James kicked himself.  Still, he took her cue and walked with her to the front hall to grab his coat.

“Are you still up for tomorrow night?” he asked, a little too eager.

“Sure.  How dressy do I need to be?”

“Don't need to be, it's pretty casual,”

Charlie eyed him, “I’ll Google the place.  I don’t trust you,” she laughed.

“You’ll look great in anything,” he kissed her.

“Ugh, so corny!” she teased.

James tapped her ass on his way out, “I’ll pick you up at 11.”

Friday, March 23, 2012

The One Where Kris Shows Up...

Charlie plopped down in her chair and the overstuffed folder landed on her desk with a thud.  She laid her head back and closed her tired eyes.

They had just gotten out of a two hour-long session about tending to their clients.  Newly hired Jessica asked a million questions, prolonging the best part of it—the end.  She was all for giving clients what they want, but she had been working with the company for almost two years now and she was damn good at it. 

Charlie had trained under president and boss, April, something that doesn’t happen anymore with the company growing and all.  Whenever they had a major client, she shadowed April.  And if she were too busy to take on a small-scale project, Charlie was the one who’d take over.

Her phone buzzed from inside her purse, stopping her from dozing off.  It was from James.

Images of last night came flooding back.  Though it wasn’t anything grand, just making out like teenagers, it was still big for Charlie.

No dating, no relationships, and no hook ups—she hadn’t been with anyone in almost a year.  It took a while for her to recover from the disaster left behind by the last guy she was with.

There was something about James though, something that made her want to try again.

Charlie opened her phone and read his text.

From: James
Have you grabbed lunch yet?

To: James
Nope.  What did you have in mind?

From: James
Meet you outside Girasole in 15?

To: James
On my way!

She threw her phone in her purse and turned around to grab her coat from the hook in the corner.  She was startled when she turned around to see April standing there.

“Where are you going?”

“To lunch?” she said slowly, like she wasn’t sure it was the right answer.

“Just give me a second, I’ll go grab my things,”

“Uh, but uh,” Charlie stuttered.  She sure as hell didn’t want April tagging along, but she didn’t want to tell her why or about James—not yet at least.

“I’m actually meeting somebody,” she blurted out.

April studied her, her eyes boring into Charlie.  Charlie couldn’t help but feel nervous, checking her watch and playing with her hair, tucking it behind her ears.

Her boss crossed her arms and stood on her hip for emphasis, “Who’s the guy?”

“Guy?  What guy?  There’s no guy,” she slid her coat on and shuffled past April.  “Gotta go, see you in an hour!”

Charlie practically ran through the hallways—either because she was running from her boss, or running to James, she wasn’t sure.


James stood outside the restaurant in the November cold all bundled up.  The wind ripped through Pittsburgh reminding everyone that winter was fast approaching.

He pulled his beanie down over his ears before shoving his hands back into the pockets of his pea coat.

“It’s not that cold,”

James grinned at Charlie as she walked up to him, standing on her tiptoes to kiss his cheek.

“I thought you were from Canada,” she teased.  He held the door open for her, shooing her into the warm restaurant. 

He stared subtly as Charlie shed her winter wear, revealing a tan long sleeved sweater dress.  A skinny belt accentuated her curvy waist and the dark brown flat-heeled boots kept it casual.

It took him a second to realize that she was talking to him, “James?”

“Hmm?  What?”  She pointed towards the hostess.

“Oh, sorry,” he mumbled.

She just smiled and asked him again, “Mr. Neal would you like a table in the back as usual?”

James nodded and gestured Charlie to go ahead and follow the hostess, any opportunity to stare at her figure again.

When they were seated and left alone in the back corner of the restaurant, James leaned across the table and kissed Charlie gently on the lips.

“I forgot to do that,” he smiled.

Her eyes fluttered and she licked her lips before hiding her blushing cheeks behind the lunch menu.  James didn’t need to look at the menu, he got the same thing every time he came, so instead he just ogled her.

Their waiter was quick to greet them and just as quick to fill their drink order.

Charlie cleared her throat and played with the straw in her water.  “So uh, do you take all your dates here?” she laughed nervously.  “I mean they seem to know you pretty well,”

James couldn’t help but smile at her worry.  “I come here with my teammates sometimes, good food,” he slid his leg between hers comfortingly.

The conversation flowed easily after that.  He asked about her day at work and let her vent about some long meeting she had to attend for no reason.  When their food arrived it was quieter as both enjoyed their dishes.

He was picking at her dish when he noticed someone walking up to the table.

“Well ‘allo there James,”

Oh dear God no.

“Hey Tanger,” he anxiously greeted his teammate.

Kris stood there bouncing on the balls of his feet, glancing between James and Charlie. 

“James, are you going to introduce me to this beautiful lady?” he eyed him.

No.  Now go away.

“Yes, right.  Kris this is Charlotte, Charlotte meet Kris,”

Kris surprised her by grabbing the hand she held out to shake his, taking it and kissing the back of her hand, “Bonjour Charlotte,”

James couldn’t help but noticed the blush on Charlie’s cheeks as she smiled shyly.

God damn him and that French accent!

“It’s so nice to finally meet you.  James here has told me so much about you,”

“Well I mean, I,” he stuttered.

Charlie winked at him, “Good things I hope,”

“What else would there be?” Kris pretended to be shocked, holding a hand to his heart.

She giggled, “I like him,”

James forced a small laugh.

“So are you joining us for a night out on Friday?”

Charlie looked across the table cocking an eyebrow.

“I wasn’t sure if you’d be up for it, I was going to—”

“James, it’s ok,” she reassured him with a smile.

“We have a game on Friday.  A bunch of the guys were thinking of heading out to the club afterwards,” he explained quickly.

Kris smiled merrily as James mad an ass out of himself.  “I’m sad to say that my teammate here is a fool,” he snickered.  “However I am happy to hear that you’re not taken!  I would love for you to be my date on Friday,” he laid it on thick and put a hand softly on her shoulder, letting it linger.

Hands off.

James’ fists clenched underneath the table, “Kris,” he growled.

Tanger through his hands up in defense, “Alright, alright.  But I will have to claim you for a dance, I’m a great dancer,” he grinned, kissing her hand once more.

“See you Nealer,” he winked at him, giving him a punch in the arm.

James sat there for a minute, his body rigid and mind elsewhere.  Charlie just rested her elbows on the table and waited.


Waiting, waiting.

Charlie sat there patiently—sort of—until James snapped out of whatever daze he was in.

“I’m, I’m sorry about him.  Kris is,” he paused to think of the word.

“Playful?” she winked.

James laughed.  “I really was going to ask,” he reassured her.

She reached for his hand to give it a squeeze, and pulled it back so they could finish their meal.

Charlie was quick to grab the bill when it came, James had been so gracious before and she thought it was her turn to pay.

James helped her into her jacket and followed her out of the restaurant.

“I’m this way,” she pointed over her shoulder towards her building.

He gestured in the opposite direction, “I’m this way,”

She pulled on the lapel of his jacket, running it through her fingers.

“Come with me on Friday?” James asked a bit pleadingly.

Charlie toyed with him, “Hmmm, that depends,”


“If you’re as good as a dancer as Kris claims to be,” she giggled.

James rolled his eyes.  He grabbed her wrist and pulled her into him. 

“Oh, I’m very good on the dance floor,” he said softly.

Charlie leaned in and kissed him, “I’ll be the judge of that.”  She gave him one more kiss before leaving the warm embrace of his arms to walk back to her office.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The One Where They Kiss...

He almost told her, he wasn’t sure why he didn’t.  It’s not that James didn’t think she’d be ok with it—ok that’s exactly what James thought.  He knew her well enough to know that she wouldn’t react like a puck bunny, but what he didn’t know is whether or not she’d want to put up with it.

Late nights, wins, losses, traveling, the media.  Puck bunnies even.  It’s a lot for someone to take on, a lot for James to throw at a girl.

“I, uh, I play hockey.  In a social league, type thing.” James stuttered

Real smooth, dumbass.

“Oh really?” she turned around, smiling.  “My best friend Tori, remember her?”

James nodded.

“Her boyfriend—well fiancé, he plays in a social league too!  Maybe you two play each other,”

“Maybe” James laughed nervously, downing the rest of his glass before pouring another.


It wasn’t long before dinner was ready.  They sat at the dining room table catty cornered to each other, the conversation flowing.

To say the lies stopped there would be, well, a lie.

James’ nose must have grown two feet in one hour alone.  He told Charlie that he was in the sports industry.

Not technically a lie.

When she asked if he was going to elaborate, he just laughed nervously.  He worked in marketing and brand management.

Could I get by saying I marketed the Penguins… by playing for them?

James quickly but smoothly (he thought) turned the tables on Charlie and asked about her job.  She was happy to oblige.

From the way she described her position as an assistant at a local, well-known event planning company, James knew that she loved her job.  She didn’t stop smiling as she spoke, her hands animated.

He just watched and listened.

Charlie was mid sentence when she looked at James just watching her, “Oh.  Oh, sorry.  I didn’t mean to ramble on and bore you,” she said shyly as she picked up her fork and took a bite of the chicken.

“Not at all,” James corrected her.  “Ever thought about going solo?  Creating your own company?”

She paused to think about his question, sipping her wine.  “I love the idea.  But I don’t think it’s something I’d actually do.”  James motioned for her to continue.  “I don’t think I have the skill to create something from nothing.  My boss always talks about how hard it was for her to get going, I don’t know how she kept up with it,”

Charlie was silent for a moment staring off, lost in her own thoughts.  “And honestly, I’m quite happy at where I am,” she looked at James with a truthful smile.


Charlie watched as James cleaned up the kitchen, the tables turning from their first dinner.  The polo he wore put his arms on display—his huge, muscular arms.  And that ass, a cup could sit on that rear end.

Is it the hockey that gave him that?  God bless hockey!

As James finished up Charlie grabbed their wine and took a seat on the leather couch.  A few minutes later James joined her, picking up his glass she had put on the coffee table and taking a seat on her left.

And by next to her, he was practically on top of her. 

His arm lazily fell behind her head and across the back of the sofa.  His thick thigh was pressed flush with hers.  Charlie saw his lips moving as he talked enthusiastically but couldn’t hear a thing he said.  Her mind was focused on keeping herself from attacking him. 

She took a deep breath to relax her, but instead she inhaled the scent of his rugged, woodsy cologne.  Delicious, she thought.


Charlie snapped out of her hypnosis, caught red handed.

“You alright?” James asked.

She bobbed her head up and down.  Her eyes were unable to choose which to rest on, his lips or his eyes that peered down at her.

James smiled and his tongue slowly licked his bottom lip.

Charlie fought back a whimper.


Did she just whimper?  Well I mean if she’s going to whimper I might as well give her something to whimper about, right?

James took the wine glass from Charlie’s hand, her grip releasing it easily.  He placed them on the coffee table before leaning back.

He shifted his body towards her and brushed away the hair that had fallen from its place, a classic move.  He leaned in and their eyes met, making sure he wasn’t misreading any signals.

Apparently, it wasn’t that he was misreading signals, but that he wasn’t acting on them fast enough.

Before James knew it Charlie had closed the gap between them and her mouth slammed into his.

James pulled back.  His fingers against his lips, “Ow,”

Charlie looked mortified.  Her blue eyes were wide as her hands clamped over her mouth.  “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry!” she mumbled beneath them.

“I didn’t mean to—I was just trying—I haven’t done this in a while,” she tried explaining, her words coming out incredibly fast.

James couldn’t help but laugh.  He pressed his hand over her mouth to silence her, but she continued talking.  His eyes bore into hers and she finally hushed.

“How about we try it again?” he whispered.

Charlie nodded slowly and James removed his hand, only for it to cup her cheek.

“I got this,” James laughed.  She groaned in embarrassment, but did as he told.

James took his sweet time lowering his mouth to hers.  He brushed his lips lightly across hers repeatedly before they came to a rest.

Gently, James kissed her full lips.




I could die right now.  This might be Heaven.

Charlie sat still while James tortured her, his lips brushing hers here and there.  When he finally kissed her full on, she about lost it. 

James’ hands wandered down her side and stroked her thigh, while her own snaked their way around his collared neck.  Afraid to disobey and make a move, Charlie parted her lips just so. 

James didn’t hesitate to take advantage and faintly traced her bottom lip with his tongue.  Charlie moaned in appreciation, and their tongues quickly entangled.  They took their time memorizing the feel of one another’s lips, the feel of their kiss. 

Charlie’s breath hitched in her throat when she felt his hand just under the hem of her skirt.


Too far.

“I’m sorry,” James pulled away and apologized, his breathing heavy.  He pressed his forehead against hers and whispered again, “Sorry,”

Charlie silenced him with a gently kiss.  “It’s ok,”

He enveloped her in a hug and nuzzled into her neck.  They sat like that for a few minutes, Charlie gently stroking his back.

“James?” she murmured.  He answered with a grunt.

“I should get going,”

James squeezed her tighter, but he knew she was right.  He pulled away and stole another kiss before helping her off the couch and into her jacket.

In the car James grabbed Charlie’s hand and held it between them, rubbing his thumb slowly against her soft skin.  He wanted to take the long way, or a wrong turn—whatever got him more time with her.  But his better judgment told him not to.

He parked outside her apartment and held her hand as he walked her up to her door.

“Thank you for dinner,”

Charlie smiled bashfully, “I had a great time tonight,”

James leaned down and kissed her once more.  “I want to see you soon,” he whispered against her lips.

“You better,” she smiled, kissing his cheek and sneaking into her apartment before they could do anything else.

The One Where He Slips Up...

“Can I help you?” Charlie asked without looking up.

James was hovering over her shoulder as she read her list for the tenth time.  He had been doing that down every isle, standing immensely close to her.  It wasn’t safe for either of them.  She turned around and pushed James gently towards the cart before wandering down the isle.

They had stopped off at a grocery store outside of downtown Pittsburgh after he finally decided on what he’d like for dinner.  Charlie had to hide the smile as she remembered meeting him in a store just like the one they were currently shopping at.

“All we need now is broccoli.  I’ve got wine at my place if you’re alright with that,” She looked back to James as he came to a stop next to her.

“I think we need to grab some more,” he suggested, already turning the cart towards the wine isle.

Charlie shook her head, “I’m sure I have a full bottle,” her words were ignored, as James was already halfway down the store.  Charlie had to jog to catch up with him, which in heels wasn’t a great idea.

James insisted on paying for the groceries.  The two took them out to the car and were quickly back on the road.

When he didn’t turn back to town, Charlie knew James had something up his sleeve.  She just eyed him as he tapped his fingers on the steering wheel to the beat of the radio.  His smile never faded, but only grew when he’d catch her staring.  They spent the rest of the drive in a comfortable silence, their arms resting on the center console brushed more than a few times.


James drove down through the neighborhood that was quickly becoming more and more familiar to him.  He pulled into a driveway of a nice size, two car garage, brick house.  He put the car in park and turned off the engine.  Silence quickly filled the car.

“Where are we?” Charlie asked, looking around at all the houses on the street.

He smiled proudly, “My house.”  James jumped out of the car and opened the door for Charlie.  She looked pensive as they grabbed the groceries from the trunk and made their way up the front walk.

“I thought you lived in an apartment downtown?”

“I do, well I did.  It was temporary, until I was finished with the house,” he explained, fiddling with the keys before the door clicked open.

Charlie followed James in to the small foyer.  Their steps echoed on the hardwood floor as they walked down the long hallway and into the kitchen.

James took the bags from her and began laying everything out.  “Please, make yourself at home,” he insisted.

Her fingers began work on the buttons of her long dark green coat.  Charlie walked through the modern and sleek kitchen.  The pale grey room was complimented with stainless steal appliances, and black, rustic cabinets.  White granite covered the countertops and massive island.  Open to the kitchen, the family room had a similar feel.  The cream walls balanced the kitchen well, and a dark brown leather L couch faced the dark wood framed fireplace.  A few pieces of art hung on the walls, but for the most part it was simple and uncluttered.

She made a full circle of the first floor, having shed her jacket in the hallway closet.  She met James at the counter.  “Time to get to work!”

Charlie was quick to begin cooking.  Salad, broccoli and chicken were on the menu.  She was mixing the dry ingredients for the chicken when she looked up and caught James staring.

“I don’t think I told you this yet, but you look beautiful tonight,” he said softly.  She watched as his eyes slowly admired her from head to toe.  Charlie could feel his stare burn through the purple sheer top she had tucked into a high wasted, tight fitted skirt.

“You need something to do,” she laughed nervously.  Her head shook at how silly she was being around him.  C’mon girl, it’s not like you’ve never liked a guy before!

She asked for him to get a cutting knife and handed James some vegetables to cut up.  They stood alongside each other at the counter, they arms and hips bumping gingerly.


With a bit of teamwork, the chicken was prepped and in the oven by 7:30.  Charlie poured them both a glass of wine while James turned on the fireplace in the family room.  They stayed away from the couch, knowing that it was too soon in the night to be that close to each other.

Leaning against counters opposite from one another, she took a sip of her wine.  “It’s beautifully done,” she complimented.

James looked at his home, and smiled proudly.  “I’d have to agree,” he also took a sip of wine.  “I’d like to take all the credit, but my mom and a designer did most of the work,”

Charlie put down her glass to check on the chicken while James continued.  “We’re close, but we still have some rooms to finish.  I just can’t wait until the basement is done, have the team over, it should be fun,”

Charlie glanced at him over her shoulder.


The One Where They Make Plans...

Charlie had just stepped out of the shower and was drying herself off when she heard her phone go off in the bedroom.

She secured the towel around her figure before she padded over to her bedside table.  She answered without looking at the caller ID, “Hello there!”

“Hello to you to!” she could hear him smile through the phone.

Though it felt like a moth, James had been gone for 9 days.  There wasn’t a day where he didn’t text or call Charlie back in Pittsburgh, The conversation was light as always—how their day had been, TV shows that they were watching… His work had taken him to Canada and California, and even with the time changes they still managed to talk.

“Our plane gets in late tonight, early morning for you,” he paused.  Charlie pictured him rubbing the back of his neck, “but uh, would you maybe want to have dinner with me tomorrow night?”

At that moment Charlie was quite happy she wasn’t with James in person.  She bit her bottom lip as she smiled and did a little hop, holding tight onto her towel.  She waved her hand over her face as a way to compose herself.

“Sure, I’d love—” she stopped herself.  “Wait, tomorrow’s Sunday?” she stated more than asked.

“Yea, it is,” James said over the line.

“Damn,” Charlie mumbled.  “I’m sorry, James I can’t.  I already had plans tomorrow night.” She didn’t bother to hide her disappointment.

“Oh,” James said, just as disappointed.  “A hot date?” he laughed.

Did he sound nervous?  Charlie thought.

“No!” she answered too quickly and rolled her eyes.  “A-hem.  I mean no, just a family dinner.”

Charlie swore she heard him sigh in relief, which only made her do the same.

“I’m free Monday,”


James must have glanced at the clock on the wall at least a hundred times, he was sure that time was fighting against him.  The minutes passed by so slowly James thought his clock might have been broken, he replaced its batteries twice already.

He would have been happier to see Charlie when he got home on Sunday, but she was already busy.  Can you just imagine how anxious I’d be if it were later in the week?!  He laughed at himself.

Instead they decided on dinner Monday night and Charlie insisted on repaying James for the Chinese by making dinner.  James was going he pick her up at her office at 6 and take them to the grocery store to pick up any ingredients she’d need for cooking.

After all the NHL Network he could take, James checked the clock once more.  He bolted from his couch when he saw it was 5 o’clock.  He took a quick shower, before shaving what little facial hair had grown in the past few days.

“I’ve never been more grateful to have no roommates,” James mumbled to himself as he stood in his closet trying on shirt after shirt.  He’d get it from them if they knew how much of girl he was being.

Settling on a pair of tailored khakis and an army green polo, he headed back into the bathroom for the final piece to the puzzle.

The hair.

He could have left it alone and just put some gel in it, but he washed it for tonight was a special occasion.  James lined up his comb and hair products in a line and got to work.

It began with running the towel over his head, getting it dry.  Next, James combed it before blow-drying it a bit, making sure it was stick straight.  Then he squeezed gel into his hands, and ran his hands through his hair.

Front to back.  Back to front.  Right side and up.  Left side and up.  Mess it up—run hands all over.  Scrunch.  Fluff.  Done.

James stepped into his bedroom and took a look at the time on his phone.  It was time to go, so he grabbed his keys and winter jacket and headed for the front door.  He made sure to stop and take a look at the finished product in the hallway mirror.

Damn, he grinned.

Go get ‘em tiger.


He pulled up to the address she had texted him earlier and parked out front.  As he got out of the car he saw Charlie come through the glass doors.

James pulled back the sleeve of his jacket and checked his watch, he wasn’t late—right on time actually.

“Well aren’t you a sight for sore eyes,” she beamed as she walked down the stone steps.

“I would’ve come up to your office and got you.  I hope you weren’t waiting long,” he said.

She came to a stop just a foot from him, “Which is exactly why I came down.  My boss is also my friend, so you’d get the third degree.  And probably her phone number,” Charlie giggled.

“Ah, so you’re actually saving me,” James joked.

For just a minute they stood there smiling at each other before Charlie shook her head.  “Fine, fine.  I’ll give,” she closed the gap between them and wrapped her arms around James’ neck.  He reveled in the feeling of her so close to him, but he wished her thick jacket wasn’t in the way of his hands holding her waist.

Charlie was the first to pull away.  “Shall we?”

James held the passenger door open for her, before he ran around to his side.  He eased his way into the afternoon traffic, the roar of his Mercedes' engine masking the revving of their own engines inside.  

Friday, March 16, 2012

The One Where TK Loses...

“Wait, wait!  Let’s stop before we go any further,”

Charlie fell against the back of the chair and sighed.  She kept her eyes closed, bracing herself for what she knew was coming.

“He surprised you with dinner, stayed all night ‘talking’—”

“Don’t do that!” Charlie groaned, smacking down the hands of her best friend, “Don’t do the air quotations.  We really did talk!”

Tori rolled her eyes, “Yea, ok.  And I’m a princess,”

“Baby, you’re my princess!” her fiancé, Andrew, called from inside their family room.

Charlie stuck her finger in her mouth, like she was gagging.  “Oh hush!” Tori chastised before continuing on her rant.  “And you’ve only met him once?”

“Well technically twice, but the second time was for like a second—”

“Didn’t he walk you home once?” Charlie nodded yes.  “Jesus Charlotte, I never thought you were the type of girl who would put out on the first date,”

“Tori!” she could feel her cheeks reddening.  “I did not sleep with him, do anything with him!  Thanks for thinking so much of me, ‘best friend,’” she mocked her using air quotations.

“Oh, you know I’m joking,” Tori got up to make another pot of coffee. “But seriously, you met in a grocery store and he shows up at your place?  That’s kind of weird, if you ask me.”

Charlie had to admit, she was a bit shocked at first.  James had shown up with dinner out of the blue, and ended up staying over until almost 2 am.  But all they did was talk, and it was actually really relaxing and fun.  Charlie couldn’t remember the last time she enjoyed talking with someone as much as she had that night—the conversation flowed so easily. 

“I don’t know, he was…” Charlie paused, trying to sum up his laid back attitude and charismatic personality.

“Damn girl,” Tori said, leaning up against the counter with a new cup of coffee, warm in her hands.  “Look at you, you can’t stop smiling,” 

Charlie blushed as her best friend gawked at her.

“When do you see him next?” she asked excitedly. 

“I’m not sure.  He had a business trip he was going on—he left today, I think.  He said that’s why he surprised me, he didn’t want to wait until he got back to see me,”

“Um, swoon!” Tori gasped and placed a hand to her heart, making Charlie laugh.  Andrew yelled from the other room, “Now that’s gag worthy,”


Their plan landed in Toronto late Friday afternoon.  Though November was just a few days away, when the sun went down the Canadian air dropped until it felt like the middle of a harsh winter.

James entered the hotel with his teammates, whose bombastic, loud voices quickly filled the silent lobby.  “Whoever wants to grab dinner, lobby in twenty!” shouted Flower.

He looked around for his roommate on the road Paul Martin.  To make things easier he always grabbed both their sets of room keys—it meant for a quicker escape from the masses downstairs.  He spotted the blonde defenseman by the elevators and weaved his way through his teammates, just making it inside the elevator before the doors closed. 

James followed Paul into their room, throwing his suitcase on the bed by the window.  He took a seat on the edge and pulled out his phone.

No New Text Messages.

He sighed, tossing the phone beside him.

Since when did I become one of those guys—the kind that checks their phone every 5 seconds to see if she’s texted?  I’ve known this girl for what, two weeks and I’m already hooked.

The banging on the hotel room door snapped James out of his daze.  He glanced over at Martin who was lying down and about to pass out.  James grabbed his phone and room key and headed to the elevator.

James met up with a couple of guys in the lobby, mostly the younger players—Sidney Crosby, Geno Malkin, Jordan Staal, Kris Letang, Flower and Tyler “TK” Kennedy.  They bundled up before heading out to a steakhouse just a couple blocks from their hotel.

He lasted almost 15 minutes once they sat down without having to check his phone.  But an empty mailbox was all he found.

When he left Charlie’s that night, he made sure to exchange numbers with her.  He didn’t want to have to track her down again—though she said having his number wasn’t as charming as him stalking her. 

Now she’s just making fun of him.  He pulled her in for a hug and held her close, kissing her cheek softly before saying goodnight. 

Slow and steady wins the race, he repeated over and over.

“Nealer, quite looking at your damn phone,” Jordan chirped from across the table.  “Fuck off, I was just checking the time,” James shrugged.

“Either you’ve got fucking early onset Alzheimer’s or you’re waiting for someone to hit you up,”

“Jamesy, you got girl waiting for you?” Geno said as more of a statement than question.  His broken English made it seem less annoying than Staal’s.  “She have friend for Geno, no?”

He just shook his head and took a sip of his beer.  Staal leaned forward to fire back when Kris jumped up from his seat beside him yelping, throwing a lobster head he found in his suit pocket on the table.  As always, all eyes turned to Flower who was howling.

“Vraiment des putains de drôle!” Letang yelled at his fellow Frenchman. 

Just as James slid his phone back into his pocket, it buzzed.  He looked up to make sure all the guys weren’t looking in his direction, especially the tall, lanky blonde.  Using the tablecloth to dim the bright light of his iPhone, he pulled it out as secretly as he could.  

1 New Text Message.

His thumb swiftly pressed ‘Open.’

From: Charlie
I wish you were here…

James couldn’t keep the grin from stretching ear to ear—that is until he realized that there was more to that text.

From: Charlie
I wish you were here to witness the awkwardness that just occurred with my landlord

To: Charlie
I do have a love for awkward situations  *shoop shoop shoop*

From: Charlie
Har. Har.

From: Charlie
I was just interrogated about the ‘devilishly handsome man’ that left my apartment late the other night

You don’t have to put that in quotes, I know that’s what you think of me

From: Charlie
You’re right, your beauty just astounds me

To: Charlie
I get that a lot.  I wouldn’t blame you if you just fell at my feet and did as I told

From: Charlie
Ah, if only that dream of yours would come true…

To: Charlie
Don’t they say ‘dreams can come true’?

From: Charlie
Yes, yes they do.  But then again we live in Pittsburgh, not Disney Land

To: Charlie
Damn.  I’ll have to request a transfer to Anaheim

From: Charlie
Tell Bobby Ryan I say hi!  He’s a dreamboat

To: Charlie
He has a lisp!

From: Charlie
James, don’t be mean! It’s cute!  Kind of sexy… in a way

To: Charlie
I worry about you

From: Charlie
As do I, as do I. Hope your trip is going well

To: Charlie
I’m surrounded by a bunch of boys who pull pranks with lobsters… I wish I was back in Pit with you…

Before he could read what Charlie said back, his phone was snatched out of his hands.  TK held his phone with his left hand, furthest from James.

“Who are we texting Nealer?” he said loudly.

“A-ha!  I knew it, fucking Nealer!” Staal barked, his blue eyes glaring at James.

“Woah, Charlie?  Uh, dude, are you gay?” TK stared at him, wide eyed.  “I mean, not that that’s a problem,”

“What?!  No!” James panicked.  “No I’m not gay!  Charlie is short for Charlotte.  Tell ‘em Kris!” he stuttered.

Kris had been with James when he ran into Charlie at the coffee shop.  When they were on their way out Kris just gave him a look—a look that said ‘tell me who she is or I’ll embarrass you.’

Naturally, James was quick to fill him on their brief relationship.  He knew that he’d lose to Kris if he had gone up to Charlie, that man has a way with women.  James felt that he was man enough to make the statement that he was one good-looking guy, with an amazing head of hair.

“’I wouldn’t blame you if you fell at my feet and did as I told’?  Jesus Nealer, does that actually work for you?” TK asked, scrolling through the conversation with Charlie.

James reached for his phone but the forward was too fast, pulling away.  He started to text on his phone and James began panicking again.

“Kennedy, don’t,” he growled.

“What, I’m not going to embarrass you or anything,” His evil grin said differently.  TK made sure to emphasize when he pressed ‘send’ before handing back the phone.  James took it hastily, scrolling through his phone for any damage.  His eyes about popped out of his head when he saw what TK had texted Charlie.

From: Charlie
Why do boys play with their food… I’ll be sure to pay you back for dinner the other night when you get back in town

To: Charlie
I know how you can pay me back.  It involves playing… but not with food

“What the hell, man!” TK dove out of his seat before James could hit him.

He chuckled as he moved to the empty chair on the other side of the table, “Just trying to help your game bro,”

James’ thumbs couldn’t move fast enough to type out an apology and an explanation.  Charlie beat him.

From: Charlie
I think you owe me a couple more dinners first to equal to that Mr.


“Alright boys, hand ‘em over,” Sidney took off his beanie and threw his credit card in, passing it around for all the guys to do the same.  It was their way of picking someone to pay for dinner.  Throw everyone’s credit card in a hat and have the unbiased (usually) waiter them out one by one until there’s one left—the sucker who has to pay for the meals of multiple 200 pound hockey players.

“Excuse me, miss?  Brittany?” he politely called to our waitress walking by.

She stopped dead in her tracks and slowly walked up to him at the end of the table.  James couldn’t hear him from a couple seats down, but he couldn’t miss the rush of redness that appeared on her cheeks when he spoke to her.

Either she’s that star stuck or he told her he was going to take her to a bed & breakfast on the beach—with no plans of seeing the ocean, James thought.

One by one a credit card was pulled… first it was Flower, Staal, and then Crosby—who gave her a quick wink.

It totally was rigged.

Geno stood up and raised his arms Rocky style when his card was pulled before Staal’s.  It was down to TK and Kris, and the boys gave a drum roll as Brittany pulled out the runner up.

“Kristopher Letang,” she announced quietly.  Kris gave her a wink.

I like to call that the panty dropper.

She called his name and TK slapped the edge of the table with his palms.  “God damn it!”

James couldn’t help but laugh.  Karma’s a bitch TK!

He stayed behind to pay while the rest of the guys filed out of the restaurant and back towards the hotel.  While they stood outside in the cold air Sidney looked over to James.

“I thought that was good enough payback,” he giggled his high-pitched laugh, and bumped James in the shoulder.

What a great captain.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The One Where It Takes Off...

It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the lone source of light from the muted TV.  She had woken suddenly to a loud noise, and found herself hunched over on the couch in her family room.  What was meant to be a short twenty-minute nap lasted two hours.

Knock, Knock.

Startled again by the noise, Charlie peeled herself off the couch quickly.  She arched her back and cracked it before she switched on a few lights while heading to her apartment door.  The old lock slid open easily for Charlie as she greeted her unexpected guest.

“Hey—” James cocked his head to the side, “Were you sleeping?”

Rubbing her eyes she mumbled no, making James chuckle.

“Well I hope you’re not too tired to eat, I practically cleaned out the Chinese place down the street,” he held up the large brown bag in his hands before motioning inside the apartment.  "I wasn't sure what you liked."


James felt bad as he watched Charlie struggle to hide her yawn.  She stepped to the side to let him in and closed the door.  They stood in hallway while she took a moment or two to wake up.

There were two doors opposite the front door that led to a full bath and the other was where the laundry machine quietly hummed as it washed the items within.  To the left of the front door were the kitchen and family room.  And to the right was a single door that was slightly ajar, what James could only assume was the bedroom.

After a 360 tour from his perch inside the doorway he turned back to Charlie as she came to, eyeing the bag of food resting in his left arm.  He laughed as she licked her lips in hunger.

“Lets eat!”  Charlie led him into the kitchen and grabbed plates and silverware from various cabinets.  James laid out the food on the counter top before he draped his jacket on the back of a nearby chair. 

“What would you like to drink?” she asked from inside the fridge, her ass in the air.  James couldn’t help but admire the view.  “I’ve got water, orange juice… and one Natty Light,” she held up the beer like Vanna White.

He laughed, “Though you make it look very tasty, I think I’ll go with water,” Charlie pouted before trading the beer for a pitcher of water.  “I'll never get rid of that Natty,” she sighed.

James took a seat next to Charlie at the breakfast bar, discreetly inching his stool a bit closer to hers as he sat down.  Charlie was quick to claim all the broccoli and chicken, but as for the rest they helped themselves to the numerous dishes.

“How are you?” James asked, making small talk in between bites.  “I haven’t seen you down at the grocery store recently, and Janet said she hasn't seen you either.”

Smooth man, he shook his head as Charlie giggled at him.

“Uh yea, I guess I haven’t needed to make a grocery run lately,” she picked up a bite of the sweet and sour chicken with her fork, “Been kind of busy lately,”

Turning slightly to the left towards Charlie, his knee brushed against the side of her leg.  She didn’t move away and James kept his leg there.

“Have a lot going on at work?  Where exactly is work for you—I actually don’t know anything about you really,” James admitted with a bashful smile.  He was startled when Charlie’s fork clanged against her plate.

“Ok, I mean this with no intention to be rude," she smiled warmly, "Though I am enjoying this free meal.  And I guess it’s always nice to have company for dinner, but what are you doing here?”


After dinner, and trying to sound as casual as possible in saying he wanted to see her again so he brought dinner, Charlie had insisted on doing the cleaning.  That was fine with James who was left to himself.  He happily sat back with his arms across his chest, and took in the sight before him. 

Torn up light blue jeans sat low on Charlie’s hip.  The grey t-shirt was a size too small, though James wasn’t about to complain.  Her soft curves and flat stomach were playing peek-a-boo when she'd reach up into the overhead cabinets.  His eyes fixed on how tight the shirt was across her chest as she moved around in the kitchen.

Standing at the sink in the island, Charlie was rinsing a plate with the spray when just a bit of water hit the plate at an odd angle and lightly sprayed her shirt.  It was barely any and so cliche, but James couldn’t help himself as he licked his lips.

Calm down, boy.  Let’s take this slow, he thought.

“Mind if I take a look around?” he asked over the clanging dishes, already up and wandering around before Charlie answered.

He studied the photos lined up on the TV console.  There were a few of her and some girlfriends.  At the bar and holding up shots, as kids, at a birthday party.  Her smile always reached her eyes and long blond hair framed the face that James was growing to like more and more.

Another photo was a family one.  There was no doubt that the woman who was holding Charlie close was her mother, she was her spitting image.  On the other side of her mom was a young, good-looking guy who James assumed was her brother.  No father though, he'd wait to ask about that until he got to know her better.

“You all look alike, he said softly, but loud enough for Charlie to hear, "You have the same smile,” He looked over his shoulder to see her smiling like she was proud.

He moved along with the tour of her family room.  The walls were painted a pale lime green, giving the room a soft glow even at night.  Two orange and plush looking chairs winged a modern, khaki colored couch.  Accents in the cream curtains, the swanky rug and personal accessories were what made the area cozy and stylish. 

James sat down on the couch and sunk into the cushions.  He was looking at the vintage wooden trunk that acted as a coffee table when his eyes glanced over the numerous papers and photos scattered on top.  He narrowed in on what looked to be a seating chart.  He scooted a paper over to read what t was, ‘Wedding Reception Seating Chart.’

It was like tunnel vision—he couldn’t see anything else but the wedding plans laid out before him. 

Holy shit, she’s getting married!  Damn, what a lucky son of a bitch.  Wait, he’s not here.  Which means he’ll come home.  To find another man in his house, hitting on his woman…  I. Am. Outta. Here.

James shot off the couch and paced for a few steps.  He rubbed the back of his neck, a habit of his whenever he’s nervous.

“James, are you ok?”


James must not have noticed her walk up beside him.  He stumbled to the side and into a table by the chair.  His quick reflexes came in handy to catch the lamp that almost shattered on the hardwood floor.

“Who?  Me?  Oh yea.  Yea, I’m great,” he rambled, “Nice place,” Charlie eyed him.  He looked nervous and kept eying the front door.

Ok, I don’t get you.  You come to my place unannounced and now you’re trying to escape me as if I've got a disease.  She stuck her hands in her the back pockets of jeans, keeping her head down slightly.  “If you have to get going… thanks for dinner...”

James cleared his throat, looking over his shoulder at the coffee table.  “I just don’t want to keep you from your wedding plans,” he pointed.

Charlie couldn’t help it as her face fell and she rolled her eyes.  “Ugh,” she tilted her head to the side, running her hands down her face, “I can’t wait for it to be over!”

James took a step back and his hand pulled away from grabbing his jacket.  “Shouldn’t you be excited?  It is a big day,”

“I mean, I guess I am,” Charlie shrugged.   She walked over to the charts and papers giving them a once over.  “I was doing it as a favor, but it's just been one crazy mess.  She totally owes me,”

She took a seat on the couch and looked up to see James step in front of her.  His head thrashed from side to side, “I didn’t know gay marriage was legal in Pennsylvania,”

“Gay?  Tori isn’t gay,” Charlie couldn’t help but laugh.


“Yea?  She’s the one you met for a quick second the other day at the coffee shop.  Well she's gone by Victoria ever since college.  Apparently Tori isn’t feminine enough for her,” she scoffed, “She thinks I’m a tomboy for going by Charlie instead of Charlotte.  ‘What if someone sees your name and thinks you’re a guy?  That would be so embarrassing,'Cause you're not!'" Charlie mocked.  "Thanks for stating the obvious Tor,"

Quit rambling!  You’re being ridiculous, ugh!.

James plopped down on the couch next to her, grinning like a Cheshire cat.

One damn good-looking Cheshire cat, she involuntarily thought.

“What about you?” he asked.

“Me?  I prefer Charlie.  I think it's cute!  And I just, I don’t like how I got my name,” her smile faltered a bit but if James noticed he didn’t say a thing.

Instead, he chuckled at her.  “No, silly.  I mean marriage.”

“Oh!  Oh.  No, that’s not really for me,” Charlie put her hands up defensively.

James peered over his shoulder at her as he leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees.  His wide shoulders stretched the fabric of his white button-up.  He had a five o'clock shadow, and boy did it work for him.  His hair was spiked up a bit and was a little long, brushing against the tips of his ears.  She had to sit on her hands to stop her fingers from playing with it.

“So there’s no special man in your life?”

Charlie smiled shyly.  “No,” She looked up and her eyes met with James’.  “But there is this guy I met at the grocery store,”

He sat back and laid an arm across the back of the couch.

When did he get so close?

“Is that so?” James asked all cocky.

“Yea.  Kind of cute, but a bit of a stalker.  Kind of creepy.” she said with a straight face.

James just smiled.  “I don’t stalk, I just run into you in a premeditated manner,”

Charlie laughed loudly and her head fell back slightly.  Her giggle faded out and she looked back at him and sighed.

Woah.  Did he just lick his lips?  Stop staring at his mouth, look away from his lips.  Stop!

James laughed. 

What?  Did I say something funny?  Did he say something funny?  Shit.  Laugh, or he’ll notice you’re not paying attention!

She let a small, light laugh escape.

He licked ‘em again!  He knows I'm staring!  

James leaned in close, his face only a few inches from hers.  "If you ask me, I think Charlie is a sexy name for a girl," he winked.

Well shit, take me now!